Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's Halloween. Zombies!

Today is Halloween. I hate Halloween. I really loathe it. There are too many reasons to go into. Some involve me being an Asperger's person dealing with costumes, masks and makeup, not to mention parties and being among masses of people. Some reasons involve the open invitation (one that I didn't issue) to come to my house. Some objections involve being a teacher and having strangers offer candy to children. And most of my reasons are spiritual.

I grew up in New England, not too far from the Salem Witch House.

I went to college in Bangor and lived lived in Maine most of my adult life, where Stephen King's wrought iron fence in Bangor adorned with bats, spiders and three-headed dragons was part of the neighborhood landscape.

Stephen King opens the new gates to his bat-guarded Victorian home
in this November 1982 photograph.1982 BDN photo by Carroll Hall
Michael Jackson's Thriller scared us to pieces when it first came out on MTV.

I'm well aware of the origins of Halloween, and I'm pointedly aware of the holiday's occultic embeddedness on secular people. That's why I'm always conflicted over Halloween when it comes to church activities. John MacArthur has a good essay on it here.

Anyway the whole zombie thing was on my mind. What are zombies, anyway? Wikipedia has a nifty definition.

"A zombie is an animated corpse raised by magical means, such as witchcraft. The term is often figuratively applied to describe a hypnotized person bereft of consciousness and self-awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli."

You've seen it, the shuffling walk, the ghostly rotting flesh, the audible groans. Zombies.

The zombie's rise in cultural consciousness has grown to the point of the notion of the zombie apocalypse.

"Intimately tied to the conception of the modern zombie is the "zombie apocalypse"; the breakdown of society as a result of an initial zombie outbreak which spreads. This archetype has emerged as a prolific subgenre of apocalyptic fiction and been portrayed in many zombie-related media after Night of the Living Dead. In a zombie apocalypse, a widespread (usually global) rise of zombies hostile to human life engages in a general assault on civilization."

George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead is
considered a progenitor of the fictional zombie
of modern culture.
Walking corpses. Does that remind you of anyone? The animated dead. Still nothing coming to mind?

Animated dead people, conscious and able to respond to outward stimuli?

Lost people.

Every person on the planet who does not believe in the name of the resurrected Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, is a zombie. They are alive, but they are dead.

"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses," (Colossians 2:13)

Please always remember that those without Christ are just as empty as the fake zombies appearing in movies and television. They do not have the hope of Christ in them. Only Christ makes us alive!

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."(2 Corinthians 5:17)

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26)

Even the description of the zombie apocalypse sounds like the conditions will be like on earth immediately after the rapture, when no true believer is left. In those moments after the rapture, the entire earth will be populated with zombies: lost people who are dead in their sins and trespasses, robotically walking around and unknowingly or knowingly submitted to satan, who roams the earth looking for those whom they may devour.

I don't need to 'celebrate' Halloween, not when every day I see a lost person in their hopeless state and I am in agony for them. Not when I am being attacked at every turn by false teacher zombies holding out hands grabbing for my money, or putting books full of poisonous false teachings into my and my friends' hands. I don't need to pay any more attention to Halloween than it deserves, because on earth, every day is Halloween. Why look at costumes of bloody people when the only blood that can re-animate dead corpses was shed on the cross at Calvary? Blood that has been and is forever once for all shed?

The earth is a graveyard of sin and death, lost people are un-animated corpses needing to be born-again, and the costumes we wear are the soiled garments of unrighteousness.

Jesus Christ is the Light, the only Light in a dark, dark world. What we should celebrate is being born from above and entering the kingdom of heaven This is what we can and should celebrate. Why look at death, zombies, and hell, when heaven is available to each and every person on earth during this age of Grace! Let grace reign, look to Jesus. Look up, our redemption draweth high!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

"And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." (John 1:16) 

Ongoing prophetic fulfillment of Peter's prediction of false teachers

I have studied the last days prophecies since almost the moment I was born-again. It was obviously and most certainly the niche the Holy Spirit placed me in. I have an earnest and never-quenching desire to learn the word of God, and especially to learn the prophecies in the word of God.

Often when people hear about prophecy, they think of the prominent ones, like the rapture, the Tribulation (AKA Time of Jacob's Trouble), or the antichrist.

We are in the midst of a last days prophecy being fulfilled. Before I continue explaining which one, I want to make clear that the last days began with the ascension of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit. This opened the Age of Grace. However, the Age of Grace is a period which is foretold to be like birth pangs and to hurtle toward its climactic and chaotic conclusion at Armageddon and the coming of Jesus Christ the second time. As a pregnancy gestates and then concludes, the water breaks and the pains come, at first far apart but then closer together and in more painful and bloody form until the new birth arrives. The new birth is the Kingdom on earth AKA the Millennium Era.

So we have been in the last days for 2000 years. However the prophecies foretold of events occurring at the last 7 years necessitate Israel being reformed, globally instant telecommunications, technologies which support the mark of the beast, Damascus being destroyed, the rise of Russia, etc. and we see infrastructure that align with those prophecies now. Therefore we know that the rapture is even closer and the other prophecies which are not as prominent are being readied to be fulfilled and are being fulfilled in the present day and moment.

The prophecies I'm speaking of today which I see being fulfilled, are 2 Peter 2:1-2 and 2 Peter 2:3. Here they are

GA pastor Creflo Dollar's house
"But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed." (2 Peter 2:1-2)

"And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep." (2 Peter 2:3)

Please note that Peter makes a distinction between the times of old when false prophets trampled the way of God, and today when Peter says false teachers are the ones to watch out for.

Secondly, note that Peter says false teachers will be "among you." Jesus warned they will wear sheep's clothing. (Matthew 7:15). When you put on clothes in the morning, you're hiding the flesh, hiding who you are, covering up. These prophesied false teachers will not be immediately evident as false. They will be among the believers, and they will not be teaching not spouting easily identifiable false teachings at first. They are double agents, infiltrating inside to do their deathly work.

Third, note that Peter said they will secretly bring destructive heresies. They will hold secret blasphemies in their heart, and these heresies and blasphemies will slowly and gradually filter out and permeate the faithful. The false teachers spout poison gas. They don't spout cyanide or sarin gas, because in using the metaphor, those odorless and colorless gasses kill instantly. No, these false teachers spout carbon monoxide, which takes a while to do its deadly work, lulls the unwary to sleep, and then death comes. "Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs after enough inhalation of carbon monoxide (CO). Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas, but, being colorless, odorless, tasteless, and initially non-irritating, it is very difficult for people to detect. Symptoms of mild acute poisoning include lightheadedness, confusion, headaches, vertigo, and flu-like effects; larger exposures can lead to significant toxicity of the central nervous system and heart, and even death." (source)

See? It takes a while to build up in the bloodstream, but all the while the poison is in your blood it is warping your mind and causing you to not be able to think straight. And note that carbon monoxide poison is "initially" non-irritating. This is exactly how false teachers operate. Eventually the poison's buildup reaches its critical mass and you fall spiritually.
Beth Moore (and others) at Passion 2012
performing the Catholic mystical Lectio Divina (source)

Fourth, the verse says that followers of the false teachers are in fact following their sensuality. The prosperity gospel false teachers promote the original sin that satan offered Eve, which was lust of the eyes and lust of the flesh. (Genesis 3:6).

My contention is that false teachers and acceptance of their teachings are becoming so common that it's obvious the prophecy is being fulfilled now, today.
There are so many false teachers who are obvious and rank heretics, but masses and multitudes of 'Christians' follow them. Have they all gone mad? Yes. The carbon monoxide buildup in the blood has almost reached its death point. Let's look at some real examples.

Joseph Smith was the founder of Mormonism (Latter Day Saints). He lived from 1805 to 1844. In his day, he was seen as a madman, a heretic, and a false teacher. From the beginning, Joseph Smith and his followers provoked ridicule for Mormonism's seemingly magical if not superstitious origins, and opposition as a heresy that dared to claim itself "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth." (source)

Though he had gained a few thousand converts, once a newspaper article was published exposing his promotion of polygamy and other aberrant "Christian" doctrines, this caused him to be jailed and even then, an angry mob stormed the jail and killed him outright. The men of the area were outraged at Smith's corruption of marriage, sullying of women by seducing them into polygamy, and exaltation doctrine (humans become gods). Of course I don't advocate lynching, but it is interesting to note that false prophet Joseph Smith's blasphemies caused outrage and action. Today we are told to tolerate them.

The United States Congress opposed Mormonism in the form of vigorous opposition to their main tenet at that time: plural marriage. This battle squelched Mormonism's growth for a long time. By the 1890s the Latter Day Saints movement banned plural marriage so as to escape this opposition in political and secular quarters.

So how does a ridiculed and obviously ridiculous religion in the 1840s, with a disgraced and dead founder, grow in size to 14 million members today?

Joseph Smith,
1st Pres. of Latter Day Saints
After Smith's death, the cult selected Brigham Young as its leader, and they regrouped, trekked out to Utah's desert, and became insular and economically self-sufficient. When they finally relinquished its stance on polygamy in the late 1800s, they became poised to grow. Even at that, "Throughout the nineteenth century and most of the twentieth, Mormonism has been viewed as an aberrant, bizarre, isolated, and largely self-contained religious movement cut off from the mainstream of American society."

Until recently. How is it that a hundred and fifty years ago, an aberrant cult poised to die in the desert, can become the fastest growing faith sector in the United States today?

This 2012 study states there are "reported 2 million new adherents and new congregations in 295 counties where they didn't exist a decade ago, making them the fastest-growing group in the U.S."

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children." (Hosea 4:6)

In the 1800s, people knew their bible. They could not be fooled. And they not only knew their bible, they lived it, so they could not be drawn away into spiritual lusts like exaltation and fleshly lusts like polygamy. Not so today.

Joyce Meyer used to travel in this Canadair Challenger 600S;
seen here in Sydney, when she was speaker at Hillsong, '05.
Since then she's gotten a Gulfstream G-IV. Source Wiki
Today, people are so foolish they are exploited at every turn. The Charismatics are bursting on the scene so fast that they make the Mormon's growth over a hundred years look like a turtle's.

For example, Charismatic preacher and heaven tourist Jesse Duplantis has fooled his congregation so well they built him a 34,000 s.f. parsonage. Joyce Meyer fools the deceived so well they give her a jet and multiple homes. Jentezen Franklin supposedly pastors two churches, one in GA and one in CA. In order to get from one to the other on Sundays, his congregation gave him a jet.

"And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep." (2 Peter 2:3)

And now the people will believe almost anything. They believe Beth Moore when she says Jesus spoke to her in a vision and told her to teach that the bride is doesn't believe in Jesus. They believe that barking like a dog in worship is holy. They believe Sarah Young has Jesus Calling on the phone line. They believe Don Piper spent 90 minutes in a heaven where he 'saw' people in actual bodies (Remember, no one in heaven has a glorified body yet!). They believe four-year-old Colton Burpo when he (or his father) say that everyone in heaven has wings and Jesus rides a rainbow horse. They believe that drawing a circle on the ground and sitting in it makes you spiritual. They believe "worshiping" to songs like Highway to Hell and Michael Jackson's Thriller is, well, worship. They believe they are living their best life now. For most of them, they are right. Things will only get worse for them after death.

"The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense." (Proverbs 10:21)

Most don't even look for truth anymore,
but just for "encounters", most of which are unbiblical
Lack of discernment is the biggest problem in the church today. Personally, I believe we have passed a tipping point. Now that satan knows how many lack discernment, he is flooding the church buildings, the bookstores, and the television with false teachers and the gullible who don't know better are building up carbon monoxide by the bucketfuls. To cement his position, satan is teaching that "doctrine" and "theology" are dirty words and all you need is an "encounter" with God. Satan has sifted the wheat and planted enough tares so that that today's Christian church looks exactly like the chaotic and ridiculous church at Corinth that Paul rebuked.

"They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean." (Ezekiel 44:23)

Pastors no longer fulfill their duties as overseers. Pulpit Commentary explains the Ezekiel verse above where there were four fundamental duties of the OT priests, three of them relevant to pastors today.

Education: "The education of the people in the fundamental principles of their religion, viz. that a distinction existed between the "holy" and "profane," or "common," 

False teachers today deliberately blur that line, teaching that it is 'tolerant' and 'loving' to accept all teachers and doctrines, and thus they blur the theological lines and Christian distinctives.

Discernment: "and in the practical application of that principle, the art of discerning between the "unclean" and the "clean." 

In promoting that dreams and visions should be expected of the "sincere" Charismatic person, that extra-biblical revelation via audible encounters or tongues should be common to their faith, they in effect teach that the bible is not sufficient and the word can and should be added to. Without the word, no one knows what is true and what is not. There is little discernment any more.

Church Discipline: "The administration of justice in all disputes arising out of and connected with the practices of their religion. 

Some true sheep are no longer willing to do the hard work of protecting the body by confronting false ones in the congregation. Or, Pharisee overseers use church discipline as an excuse to rid themselves of the faithful discerning sheep, leaving them space to operate among the goats they attract. (John 7:13, John 9:22)

In other words, pastors abandoned their duties, and the sensuous people, all too willing to follow their lusts, accept false teaching readily. 
Jentezen Franklin has mastered the trick of being in two places at once.

All you need is a jet and a rich congregation to pay for the jet, pilot, and fuel.
Every Sunday.

"For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough." (2 Corinthians 11:4)

The very fact that a Strange Fire conference rebuking the Charismatic movement was necessary in the first place is indicative of the prophecy's continuing and rapidly advancing fulfillment.

The antidote to carbon monoxide poisoning is to wear a filter that keeps your head clear of the poison. That mask is the bible. Breathing the holy air of truth will always fill your brain and your lungs and your body with a freshness that keeps your mind clear and heart pure.

Meanwhile, know that even as these false teachers are coming on like a flood, Jesus was kind and gracious to tell us in advance. (Matthew 24:25). As we see the flood of falsity and the tragedy of so many who fall, cling to Him who is our faith (Hebrews 12:2)... and soon will be sight. (Luke 21:28)


Further reading

Watchdog group investigates Jesse Duplantis’ lifestyle

Who Are the Megachurch Leaders Who Decide Elevation Church Pastor Steven Furtick's 'Secret' Salary and Influence His Ministry?

6 Outrageously Wealthy Preachers Under Federal Investigation

Income fit for a King: Joseph Prince and the Pastor’s Pay

The Charismatic Movement in itself offers nothing to enrich true worship (written summary)
The Charismatic Movement in itself offers nothing to enrich true worship (entire audio)

The Devilish Puppet Master of the Word-Faith Movement (part 1, entire audio)
Spiritual Shipwreck of the Word-Faith Movement (part 2, entire audio)

Many Americans claim 'God told me'

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The anchor holds, my ship has come in: rapture

I lived by the water growing up and most of my adult life, mainly the ocean. Some years were spent on a lake. I loved it.

The ocean has moods, a personality, mystery, and power. Who doesn't love a day at the beach? Even better, who doesn't love a day ON the water? When we got a chance, we got on a boat. After a while, we had a boat. LOL, back in the day, a bunch of teenagers zooming around the bay on a 20 foot Boston Whaler wasn't unusual.

We grew up knowing how to use our knees to ride the waves, could look at the rocks to spot the state of the tide, knew how to anchor, dock or throttle up to reach plane. We kept a weather eye on the clouds, watched the whitecaps, and had a grand time.

Despite having such familiarity with the water, and were so comfortable on it, we knew its dangers. On Narragansett Bay there was a navigational hazard called "boiler awash".

It is a shallow patch of water near Hope Island near Prudence Island. A Navy tug sank there and its boiler, being tall, presented a hazard to the keels of boats passing over it. To make the shallow water issue worse, its boilers came to just under the surface of the water at low tide. It was a hazard all right. We always gave it a wide berth.

As an adult, I lived on a sailing yacht for two years and we sailed from Maine to Florida, crossed the Gulf Stream, and went on to the central Bahamas. We returned with the weather following the same route. Our route took us on almost every coastal river, sound, bay, and canal along the entire eastern seaboard as well as the Atlantic ocean waters off it.

Because we lived on the boat and were no longer teenagers messing around near shore, we well knew the hazards. Our VHF radio was full of calls from mariners in distress, the squawk of the marine weather station, and calls from the Coast Guard to alert to hazards (container awash, drifting and disabled boat, etc). Sailing in New England meant having intimate knowledge of reefs, shoals and rocks, and sailing in Florida meant having intimate knowledge of drunken fools, wannabe mariners and rich guy weekend warriors. In between, we learned to respect the fishermen, shrimpers, oystermen, and all the others trying to make a living.

We quickly acclimated to the water living and became respectful of the hazards. When you are underway, you are always on guard, even if it's familiar water. Always, every second. Because any second, anything could happen, and since your boat was both your home and your transportation as well as your life, well, if it required being vigilant, that is what you did.

That is why, when the anchor was set and the engine turned off, you breathed a special sigh of relief. Oh, anything could still happen, but the ratcheting down of the vigilance was considerable. As long as the anchor held, you were all set.

I remember feeling a wonderful sense of relief when the day's run was ended and we anchored. The engine turned off and all we could hear were the sounds of the birds and the waves. We were still, secure, and finished for the day. I hadn't realized how much tension I'd carried in my shoulders until the engine went off and the anchor was finally set. Day's movement done. Day's diligence concluded. Phew, we made it.

In bible days there were only three ways to travel. You got there by walking, riding an animal, or boat. Paul traveled a lot and because of that, he was on a boat a lot. He used many marine references in his letters, examples the people of the era would know well and understand immediately. Here are a few examples Paul and the other Apostles used:
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:6)

...tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14)

These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds (Jude 1:12)

holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, (1 Timothy 1:19)

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. (Hebrews 2:1)
The interesting thing about that last one is that the drifting away in the Greek literally means from God’s anchor.

Strong's explains, to "drift away from,"pararrhyéō, only occurs in Heb 2:1 where it refers to going spiritually adrift – "sinning by slipping away" (from God's anchor). It means to "lapse" into spiritual defeat, describing how we slowly move away from our moorings in Christ."

Friends, stay moored to Christ. He is our anchor. Though our journey is tense, and long, imagine the sweet relief we will feel when we get there! When all storms are over, and there are no more hidden reefs. The empty clouds deceive us no more, and our friends and family's spiritual shipwrecks (so hard to watch!) are but a distant memory gentle Christ wipes from our mind. The sweetness and rest awaiting us beside the glassy sea is unimaginably wondrous. Rest in that assurance :)

Here is "The Story Behind - "The Anchor Holds" written and performed by Lawrence Chewning"

Mr Chewning shares about the year his father died, his burnout as pastor, division in his church, his wife's three miscarriages, his discouragement, sabbatical. It is tearfully affecting. Friends, if you are also going through a storm, rely on the anchor!

I have journeyed
Through the long, dark night
Out on the open sea

By faith alone
Sight unknown
And yet His eyes were watching me

The anchor holds
Though the ship is battered
The anchor holds
Though the sails are torn

I have fallen on my knees
As I faced the raging seas
The anchor holds
In spite of the storm

I've had visions
I've had dreams
I've even held them in my hand

But I never knew
Those dreams would slip right through
Like they were only grains of sand

The anchor holds
Though the ship is battered
The anchor holds
Though the sails are torn

I have fallen on my knees
As I faced the raging seas
The anchor holds
In spite of the storm

I have been young
But I am older now
And there has been beauty
That these eyes have seen

But it was in the night
Through the storms of my life
Oh, that's where God proved
His love to me

The anchor holds
Though the ship is battered
The anchor holds
Though the sails are torn

I have fallen on my knees
As I faced the raging seas
The anchor holds
In spite of the storm


Read more: Ray Boltz - The Anchor Holds Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Monday, October 28, 2013

The end of antibiotics: the beginning of biblical plagues?

SEM depicting methicillin-resistant
Staphylococcus aureus bacteria
I read an interesting article linked on Drudge to the UK Daily Mail, and discussed over at the American Thinker. It is that we have come to the end of the era of antibiotics.

Here is the American Thinker's take on it
They've been predicting this for years and it looks like it's finally come to pass.
In our human hubris, we think we can outsmart or defeat Mother Nature. It's things like this that remind us how our pitiful efforts to control the natural world usually go for naught.
Daily Mail:
A high-ranking official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared in an interview with PBS that the age of antibiotics has come to an end. 'For a long time, there have been newspaper stories and covers of magazines that talked about "The end of antibiotics, question mark?"' said Dr Arjun Srinivasan. 'Well, now I would say you can change the title to "The end of antibiotics, period."'
The associate director of the CDC sat down with Frontline over the summer for a lengthy interview about the growing problem of antibacterial resistance.

I suffered from bronchitis and pneumonia quite bit growing up and into my 20s. In my 40s I suffered from sinusitis, and in my 50s, various ailments that run the gamut of all of the above now that I'm working in a school again.

I'm allergic to sulfa drugs so that limits the number and variety of antibiotics I could take. After a couple of times in my 40s I never went to the doctor again for relief of any of them. I was always worried that the doctors were overprescribing. I was worried I'd build an immunity to them and that when the chips were really down, that they wouldn't work as well for me.

My suspicions have been confirmed. The doctor went on in the interview saying,

'We're in the post-antibiotic era,' he said. 'There are patients for whom we have no therapy, and we are literally in a position of having a patient in a bed who has an infection, something that five years ago even we could have treated, but now we can't.'.

It's the era of the superbugs. This story from NPR six days ago tells more.

"Many people are familiar with the type of resistant infections often acquired in hospitals, caused by MRSA, the acronym for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. But most people don't know about the entirely different group of resistant bacteria that Hoffman reports on in , airing Tuesday on PBS' Frontline. The show explores an outbreak of resistant bacteria at one of the most prestigious hospitals in the U.S., and explains why there is surprisingly little research being conducted into new antibiotics to combat these new superbugs."

In the days before antibiotics, men died from the merest cut. That is one of the wonderful things about antibiotics, that people no longer die from simple injuries like they did for thousands of years. In this 2010 article by Rustam Aminov titled A Brief History of the Antibiotic Era, from the journal Frontiers of Microbiology, it is stated,

"Antimicrobials are probably one of the most successful forms of chemotherapy in the history of medicine. It is not necessary to reiterate here how many lives they have saved and how significantly they have contributed to the control of infectious diseases that were the leading causes of human morbidity and mortality for most of human existence."

"We usually associate the beginning of the modern “antibiotic era” with the names of Paul Ehrlich and Alexander Fleming. Ehrlich's idea of a “magic bullet” that selectively targets only disease-causing microbes and not the host was based on an observation that aniline and other synthetic dyes, which first became available at that time, could stain specific microbes but not others. Ehrlich argued that chemical compounds could be synthesized that would “be able to exert their full action exclusively on the parasite harbored within the organism.” This idea led him to begin a large-scale and systematic screening program (as we would call it today) in 1904 to find a drug against syphilis, a disease that was endemic and almost incurable at that time."
Add caption

The September 3, 1928 event that led to the penicillin discovery by Fleming a year later was synthesized as Fleming and Erlich had done, and by 1945, penicillin was being mass produced and distributed.

I was born in 1960, a preemie by 5 weeks. I had pneumonia and no doubt penicillin saved my life. I grew up entirely in the era of widely available medicines for any variety of illnesses, cuts, or injuries. I see that that era is coming to a close, or as the doctor in the Daily Mail article stated, has already closed. Widely available antibiotics are not widely available any more, and where they are, oftentimes the patients with the infections are showing a disheartening resistance to their effectiveness. This is serious, because people are dying.

"The mortality rates due to multidrug-resistant bacterial infections are high. Each year, about 25,000 patients in the EU die from an infection with the selected multidrug-resistant bacteria (ECDC/EMEA Joint Working Group, 2009), and more than 63,000 patients in the United States die every year from hospital-acquired bacterial infections." (source)

So what is to be done about this? It seems that the superbugs are rising fast. The answer is complex and involves societies, government, mass behavior change, widespread education, research and mass distribution. In other words, nothing will happen fast that will help, and a lot can happen fast that will hurt. This is where I see prophecy coming in.

Jesus said that many will die by pestilence.

"Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven."(Luke 21:10-12)

"When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth." (Revelation 6:7-8)

Soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas,
ill with Spanish influenza at a hospital ward at Camp Funston.
The time is ripe for any superbug to cover the world quickly. The verse in Revelation says a fourth of the earth will be killed by famine and beasts and pestilence. Assuming a billion are raptured away as Christians (I am being generous, I don't think there will even be that many), that leaves 6 billion people, so that leaves one billion five hundred million dead from the variety given in the verse. By contrast, the number killed in one of history's worst pandemics, the Spanish Influenza outbreak of 1918-19 killed 100 million in the largest estimate.

If the Spanish Influenza killed that many and so quickly prior tot he age of travel, what will a superbug do? Well, what the bible shows us.

Now, you may ask, why am I bringing this up? Why speculate on what hasn't happened? Why camp on gloom and doom? Because it is a matter of scale.

People first of all don't take judgment seriously. Look at Lot's sons-in-law. When Lot said the angels in their home were there to render judgment on the city, the men thought Lot was joking. (Genesis 19:14). But just because the Lord is long-suffering does not mean He won't punish sin- and sinners. (Numbers 14:18, 2 Peter 3:9). He will.

Secondly, the scale of the judgments shown to us in revelation are unknown to any in the history of the world. (Matthew 24:21). Heaps of dead, masses of dead, hospitals overrun, entire communities with dead in the streets. The blood running and running. The police simply unable to keep up, whole neighborhoods will burn, whole oceans become as blood.

it is good to dwell on the might of the Lord and the power of His wrath. it is good not to think ones self able to withstand the torments from heaven that will over take the whole world (Daniel 7:23) and would ave overcome all flesh if Jesus had not elected to shorten the days. (Matthew 24:22). Do not think that you will wait to make a decision about Jesus when you see the rapture happening. It will happen in the blink of an eye. (1 Corinthians 15:52). Death will then ensue on a scale no man or era has ever seen or written about. You will be as a mote on a violent tsunami wave, disappearing in an instant into the gaping maw of hell if you have not repented. Hell is enlarging its mouth even now.

"Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it." (Isaiah 5:14)

Do not cockily think you have "the stuff" to endure, even as you delay repentance and submitting to Jesus. Do not think that you will be able to handle it. Men will drop dead on the spot from fear and terror. (Luke 21:26). You will be no different.

The scale of what is coming and even as I see it on the horizon is something to fear and respect. God's long-suffering hand has been stayed these long epochs. It will descend one day on an unsuspecting world, and the scale of the horrors will be unlike anything a person can even rationally comprehend.

The era of antibiotics is ending. The era of the Tribulation may be soon on the horizon. But the Age of Grace is NOW. Jesus has come in the flesh to live the sinless life as the spotless lamb, to die sacrificially and be resurrected by the power of God. He substituted Himself for our place for on the cross, so that any person who believes in Him will not have to endure the wrath that is to come!

That is the reason I focus on this, the prophetic, from time to time. It is the end of days and Jesus will return. His long-suffering, mercy, and patience is one of the miraculous characteristics He shows us daily. William S. Plumer wrote in 1865 in his wonderful essay on Providence,

"Truly, it is astonishing that such sinners as we are should be spared; but surely it is not astonishing that if spared at all, it should be under the government of such a God. "The Lord is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish." God never punishes with delight. He does not will, or plan, or seek the ruin of his bitterest and most inveterate enemies. In the esteem of God the death of a sinner is a dreadful thing. "Many a time he turns his anger away" (Psalm 78:38) before he strikes a blow or crushes a sinful worm. The reason is, "God is love." None else would bear so long—would so long avert deserved and terrible punishments from the heads of the rebellious. Truly, the prophet told us of the glorious nature of God, when he said, "The Lord does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men."

Come to Jesus now, under His grace. Repent, and live.

"Shall your repentance be unto life and salvation? Or shall it be but the fruitless relenting of a soul in an undone eternity? O accept the mercy offered to you now. Embrace the Savior, while he waits to be gracious."

Does it "limit God" to say the miracle gifts have ceased?

This blog post is an answer regarding a common objection continuationists make, and that is, to say that the Spirit is no longer distributing miracle sign gifts (tongues, miracles and prophecy) that this 'puts a limit on God.'

Pentecost, Giotto, 1310
This is a very important topic. 1 Corinthians 12:10 speaks of four (temporary) signed gifts; miracles, prophecies, languages, and the interpretation of languages. A continuationist is a person who believes these miracle sign gifts have always continued since Pentecost. A cessationist (like me) says they ceased before the New Testament was even finished being written, that they were never meant to be permanent.

Formerly, this 'continuing-or-ceased' issue was seen as a secondary issue, or a non-essential to the faith. It was one of those 'let's agree to disagree' things, and everyone went on their way. However, the fastest growing faith sector in the world is Holiness/Pentecostal/Charismatic believers who hold to the notion that men still perform miracles, speak in babbling tongues, and can receive prophecy directly from God which is separate revelatory knowledge distinct from the bible.

The Strange Fire conference showed me two startling things: that the fastest growing religion is not Islam, it is charismania. There are a billion people in the world who believe, in effect, the bible is not the final word of God. This has diluted the word of God and the works of God  -as He has revealed them- from something final, absolute, and with integrity, to something that is secondary to the latest word one has received this day. This has opened the door to everything from merely wayward thinking, to people making a shipwreck of the faith, to the purely demonic. Therefore with this many people at risk, it is no longer a secondary issue.

Every cessationist, like me, and every continuationist knows, that God is infinitely powerful, and can do anything. He has no limit, at anytime. However, there are two things to consider here. First, God does not intervene in a visible, global, or dramatic supernatural way very often. Even in the bible days, seas parting, fire coming down, and resurrections etc. were not common. 

Secondly, God already limits Himself TO US in at least one important way: His revelation of Himself . 1 Corinthians 13:12 says that we know in part now but later we will fully know. He has chosen to limit His infinite revelation to us for now, through creation (Romans 1:19-20) and the bible (Revelation 22:18-19; Hebrews 1:1). It is not germane to any discussion to allow the talk of  "that puts a limit on God" to become part of the discussion. We are talking the miracle Spiritual gifts here, and those gifts were given to humans to employ. THAT is what we are talking about. Humans working the gifts, not God working supernaturally.
Lazarus, come forth, Salvador Dali, 1964

So the Word is where we look for a basis for any discussion about whether miracle gifts continue, or not.

And what the bible says, is that the sign gifts (tongues, miracles and prophecies) were given to men by the Spirit to authenticate Jesus's message. (2 Corinthians 12:12, Hebrews 2:3). The bible even shows that tongues were not meant for the church, but for those who didn't believe, a fulfillment of an OT prophecy. (1 Corinthians 14:22; Isaiah 28:11-12.) Now that the message is complete, the Spirit is no longer giving those particular sign gifts to men. Though we all agree God could perform them if He wants, and Revelation is full of examples of how He will do exactly that, in the Tribulation.

The difference is, the Spirit does not give miracle working ability to men like He did before the canon was complete. Today, there are no apostles bringing His message, it's all of us bringing it (Mark 16:15) and we can authenticate the message through His word, (Acts 17:11) with the Spirit's help. That is why the miracle sign gifts faded away even as the NT was being written. 

As far as God moving in supernatural ways, no, God has never stopped. That is what providence is. (Romans 8:28). It's what justification is. (Romans 4:25). It's what regeneration is. (Titus 3:5). It's what sanctification is. (1 Thessalonians 4:3). But He did stop giving men the gift of miracles, tongues, and prophecy.

Miracle of the Loaves & Fishes, James Tissot, 1896

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Creation Grace: Resurrection

Sunday Martyr Moment: Of pious blood, and prosperity Gospel

Foxe's Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book's purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.
Text from Foxe's Book of Martyrs

The Seventh Persecution, Under Decius, A.D. 249

Karitena, municipal seat of ancient Gortyna, Greece
Lucius, the governor of Crete, ordered Cyril, the 84-year-old overseer of the church at Gortyna, to be arrested for refusing to obey the edict to perform sacrifices to the idols. When Cyril appeared before him, Lucius exhorted him to perform the sacrifices and thereby save himself from a horrible death. the godly man replied that he had long taught others the way to eternal life in Christ, and now he must stand firm for the sake of his own soul. He displayed no fear when Lucius condemned him to be burned at the stake, and suffered the flames joyously and with great courage.

The persecution raged in no place more than the Island of Crete; for the governor, being exceedingly active in executing the imperial decrees, that place streamed with pious blood.


"God wants to increase you financially, by giving you promotions, fresh ideas and creativity.”
"God wants us to have healthy, positive self-images, to see ourselves as priceless treasures.  He wants us to feel good about ourselves."
"You will often receive preferential treatment simply because your Father is the King of kings, and His glory and honor spill over onto you." 
"If you develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace, and happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you…"
"It’s going to happen… Suddenly, your situation will change for the better…He will bring your dreams to pass."
~~Joel Osteen

 If Foxe's Book of Martyrs isn't enough of a rebuke against the Prosperity Gospel, I don't know what is.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Elisha's Call: An example of a good follower of God

Elijah is nourished by an angel, Gustave Dore
Elijah is often seen as the greatest prophet (after Moses and besides Jesus). He served the LORD strongly and stalwartly all the years of his ministry. He ended on an incredible note ... he personally slaughtered 450 prophets of Baal with his sword. If you think about that for a moment, and realize that Elijah was just a man, and having to personally kill hundreds of screaming, pleading men in a bloodbath, must have done something to him inside.

And we do see that next, Elijah runs away from the scene into the sparse wilderness, and from Jezebel who he fears, and lays down under a tree and asks to be taken in death. He is like the old elephants who know they are spent and go off to die alone. He wants the LORD to take him, not Jezebel, but he wants to die nonetheless. "I am no better than my fathers" he cries, meaning, 'I am dead anyway, useless to you, finish it, LORD.' (1 Kings 19:4)

He just can't go on. The LORD is so kind- he sends an angel to personally feed Elijah. (1 Kings 19:5-8). He urges Elijah on with personal appearing (He was the wind and the earthquake and the fire and the still small voice, 1 Kings 19:11-12) encouragement (You're not alone- there are 7000 who have not bent their knee to Baal. (1 Kings 19:18).

The word of the LORD was verbal to Elijah and today for us it is written in the bible, but either way, the word of God restores us and encourages us.
Elijah in the wilderness: Frederic Leighton

Though Elijah was restored and encouraged, he was tired. He spent his last few years going around to the 7000 who had not bent their knee to Baal in their schools of the prophets, teaching them. His almost last task is to anoint Elisha as his successor and mentor him for several years. In this way, God comforted Elijah because God gave Elijah a friend to be an encouragement to Elijah. Elijah wasn't alone any more.

"So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him." (1 Kings 19:19-21)

The prophet's mantle was the visible sign they were of God. Of course the most credulous sign were their words, which the LORD Himself put in their mouths, and came true exactly. (Deuteronomy 18:15-22). But the mantle was the symbol of the authority the LORD had laid upon the prophet's shoulders. Everyone knew it and understood it.

Elisha was plowing when Elijah arrived. He was the last man  on the twelfth pair after 11 pair of oxen. This indicates wealth. Elisha was comfortable, employed in a secure profession, and had a positive outlook for his life. All he had to do is name it and claim it. However, contrary to the word of faith movement's insistence that God's favor means a life of ease, when Elijah threw his mantle over Elisha's shoulders, he immediately leaped down and accepted it. No hesitation, no dithering. He knew what it meant and he accepted the call. It was akin to picking up our cross daily and following Jesus. (Matthew 16:24).

And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. At once they left their nets and followed him. (Matthew 4:19-20).

Elisha asked Elijah for permission to return and kiss his parents goodbye, which was granted. His request was honorable, made more so by his burning his bridges by sacrificing the oxen he was driving and offering them to the LORD. He demonstrably showed God he was all-in and ready.

We often look at the followship of the apostles but being an Old Testament lover from not-too-way back, I like to look at the call of the prophets too. Elisha was a remarkable man. He must have been grieved by the sin of his nation, and have loved his LORD so much.

Let us follow Elisha's example as well as the call to the apostles. We should drop everything and follow Him who is power itself, who formed us for His good purposes, and who enables us to do good work in His name. The Lord will be with us, He promised that. (Matthew 28:20)

Friday, October 25, 2013

7.3 quake at Japan, small tsunamis ensue

BBC: Asia-Small tsunami reaches Japan after earthquake
"A small tsunami triggered by a quake has hit Japan's eastern coast - where the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is located - but no damage is reported. The 30cm (1ft) waves reached the region after the 7.1 magnitude tremor struck at a depth of 10km (six miles), about 320km off the coast. A tsunami alert issued for several areas was later lifted."

"Workers at the Fukushima power station had been told to leave waterfront areas for higher ground. But a Fukushima spokesman later said there was no damage or change in readings at radiation monitoring posts around the plant, according to Reuters news agency. The Japan Meteorological Agency had warned that a small tsunami - up to one metre (3.3ft) - could reach the eastern coast after the tremor in the Pacific Ocean."

"The agency had also issued a "yellow" advisory for Fukushima and the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, Ibaraki and parts of Chiba. But it added: "Though there may be slight sea-level change in coastal regions, no tsunami damage is expected."

Surely You're Joking, Mr Lot!

Angels of Sodom, Gustave Moreau 1890
"Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting." (Genesis 19:12-14)

The scene is of Sodom, of course. The angels who had been sent by God were set to destroy the city are telling Lot to gather his family and get them out of the city. Its sins had reached an outcry ascending to heaven, and God had arrived at the limit of His longsuffering patience.

Lot was righteous (2 Peter 2:7–8, Genesis 19:7). Even though Lot had allowed his witness to become tarnished by living in the city walls with all that sin around him, and in so doing, failed to raise his family in a more Godly way, Lot knew the living God and was faithful to Him after all was said and done. Living in Sodom greatly distressed and tormented Lot as he saw and heard wicked deeds daily.

His sons-in-law no doubt would have heard Lot speak of sin and righteousness, and have begged them to do right in God's eyes. After all, he said as much in Genesis 19:7.

So here's the thing. When the angels came to the city, and Lot recognized them as angels right away, and they said they were going to destroy the city, Lot went and got his sons-in-law. Despite having seen Lot's righteousness, outwardly flimsy or inconsistent though it may have been, it must have seen bright compared to the dark backdrop in Sodom. The men thought Lot was kidding, and refused to believe him.

In Romans we see a progression of sin and the point at which God gives a society over to it. First, you will see mass sexual immorality. (Romans 1:24). If they persist, then God will give them over to depravity in the form of homosexuality and lesbianism (Romans 1:26-27). If they continue and will not repent, the last stage is that God gives them over to a reprobate mind. (Romans 1:28).
Destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah, Joachim Patinir c.1520

The term depraved mind here actually means worthless, failing the test. In other words, their mind can't think straight and they are futile. Gill's Exposition explains:

"God gave them over to a reprobate mind; a vain empty mind, worthless, good for nothing devoid of all true knowledge and judgment; incapable of approving what is truly good, or of disapproving that which is evil; a mind that has lost all conscience of things, and is disapproved of by God, and all good men".

This is clearly seen in the form of the lusty mob which had just been struck blind, still groping for the door to gang rape the angels! As a matter of fact, we see the mob scream at Lot in a way we see mobs (on comment streams and Facebook) scream today when someone tries to point to righteousness. In Genesis 19:9 we see that Lot had ascended to a position of responsibility, "sitting at the gate". It was where the elder men sat and spoke of wisdom and judicial matters. Boaz went to the men at the gate to settle his marriage to Ruth. But even though Lot was an elder at the gate, he was still not seen as one of them.

"But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.”"

They're saying 'You're a foreigner, you have no right to judge us! Because you dared to speak, we will go after you and not let up!'

Don't we hear that today?! 'Who are YOU to judge?" And then they turn from their original discussion to go against the one talking of Jesus and deal worse with them.

Reprobate minds are seen in the form of sons-in-law, who, however minimally exposed to righteousness of God through Lot, thought Lot was joking when he spoke of imminent judgment. Their mind was so far from righteousness, they didn't even think of God at all. They didn't even for a moment believe there would be consequences to sinful actions. Connecting sin and judgment was so far from their conscience, they thought it was a joke.

Don't we see that today? As in Sodom, our sins have piled up to heaven. As Lot did, many faithful pastors and watchmen speak of the coming judgment. As in Genesis 19, the society in which we live is full of sexual immorality, homosexuality, and people with seared consciences and reprobate minds doing what ought not to be done. If you speak of judgment to them, they think you're joking. And then they rabidly claim you can't judge and they go after you like mad dogs (or blind mobs).

In Romans 1:32 the terrible progression of sin concludes this way:

"Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."

Deep down they know it's wrong but their mind is so futile they instead applaud the sin and joke about judgment. Jude 1:18-19 reminds us--

"But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit."

The section of Jude there is titled "A Call To Persevere". That is our call. Despite the heavy weight of sin all around us, we must persevere. Lot persevered, though not without many stumbles. In the end he tried to get the mob to stop...he pleaded with his sons-in-law... he listened to- and believed-  the angels sent by God.

After reminding us that in the last days there will be mockers and scoffers, Jude gives us some practical advice:

"But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh." (Jude 1:20-23)

That's a lot of great advice! As we wait for the Lord's return, let's unpack that list and see how rich it is with what we can and should do:

--build yourselves up in your most holy faith (read your bible, go to church, fellowship with brethren, repent daily)
--pray in the Holy Spirit, (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
--keep yourselves in the love of God (Psalm 119:11, 2 Timothy 3:16)
--wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life (Isaiah 40:31)
--have mercy on those who doubt; (Matthew 5:7; Colossians 3:13)
--save others by snatching them out of the fire (Matthew 28:16-20)
--to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh (Proverbs 8:13)

Jesus walks on Water, Ivan Aivazovsky, 1888
Our wonderful bible is so rich with instruction and comfort. Though you may be vexed by sin where you live, or even in your own family, the Word of God shows us that we are not alone. Abraham, Lot, Paul, Peter, Jude...all lived with the same circumstances. Paul sent letters to the Corinthians who lived in a culture of orgies and temple prostitution. He sent letters to the Romans, who were being burned alive as torches for Nero's garden orgies.

 If you are in a sin-storm or are living in a sin-storm, look to Jesus, who saves, comforts, sanctifies. The first century churches had the letters from the Apostles to encourage them. And we have the entire word of God, where-

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness," (2 Timothy 3:16).

The greatest hope is that he is coming soon. Whether by death or rapture, we know this life is not the end, but a paltry and mean beginning of eternal glory with our Holy Jesus.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Why the Charismatic excesses are not fringe

As the Strange Fire conference wrapped up Sunday, many Charismatics were incensed that the conference had deemed their movement as false and rebuked its excesses. Many who defended the movement said it was unfair to lump the sedate Charismatics/Pentecostals in with the "fringe", who were the ones responsible for those excesses.

Christian Post reported,

"Another accusation has been that MacArthur and cessationists are talking about something that is only true of the extreme, lunatic fringe of the movement, to which he contends is "patently not true." Because he believes there is error in the Charismatic movement that sweeps through the entire movement. "Ninety percent of the people around the world connected to the Charismatic movement take ownership of the prosperity gospel," he said. "Twenty-four to 25 million of them deny the trinity. One hundred million of them are Roman Catholics. This is not some fringe; this is the movement. And it is growing at a rapid rate."

But what is the Charismatic movement? What is Charismania? Discernment bloggers, evangelicals, conservative pastors, those who adhere to the doctrines of grace, etc., all know that Charismania isn't fringe, but main body. The scope of the movement and its deep penetration into the heart of the evangelical body is frightening. The numbers are frightening, too. Alex Murashko noted in his article, "After John MacArthur's Strange Fire Event: 10 Things You May Not Have Known About the Charismatic Mov't"

"Islam is not the fastest-growing faith family in the world. Pentecostalism is. While Islam has gone from zero in 610 AD to 1.6 billion today (1,403 years), Pentecostalism went from zero to (about) a billion from 1906 to the present day (107 years)."

So it is obvious that if there are errors in the movement (and there are) and the movement is not fringe (and it isn't) but is overtaking evangelicalism, it needs to be understood and its errors attended to.

The Charismatic Movement is the international trend of historically mainstream congregations adopting beliefs and practices similar to Pentecostals. (Wiki).

Fundamental to the movement is the use of the sign spiritual gifts. In one of the Strange Fire sessions, it was noted that the main influx of it ramped up in 1960, the 1906 beginnings of Azusa Street mentioned above, aside.

What is Charismania? Charismania is a derivative term usually applied by American Fundamentalist Christians to the extremists in the Christian Charismatic movement. In some cases it is used as a byword to describe the entire movement in a negative light. It was specifically coined to describe the perceivable chaos and mood swings (hence mania) that sometimes occur during Charismatic revival meetings.

Such disorderly occurrences as, being "slain in the Spirit", excessive laughing/crying, screaming, wild dancing, violent shaking, and interruptive speaking in tongues and prophesying led many fundamentalists to believe that the Devil was involved while Charismatic Christians asserted that these were manifestations of the Holy Spirit. (wiki)

The mania also includes jerking, shaking, falling to the floor, acting drunk, proclaiming visions and inside intelligence from Jesus directly that are not found in scripture, barking like dogs, violence, and more. It includes heaven tourism, in which a person allegedly has a vision where they are either bodily lifted up or in the spirit lifted to supernatural realms like heaven, or in some cases, hell.

So with the numbers as they are, the spread of it to most continents and nations, its fast growth, its lack of theology, its lack of fruit, its making a shipwreck of the faith for millions, is Charismania fringe? No.

When "Heaven is for Real" heaven tourism book sells 8M books and 1M ebooks, and is seen as more credible than the heaven revealed in the bible's book of Revelation, Charismania isn't fringe.

When John Piper, Beth Moore, Francis Chan teach Roman Catholic mystical practice Lectio Divina at Passion 2012 to 60,000 Youths at the conference, Charismania isn't fringe.

When 'Jesus Calling', a book touting personal revelation from Jesus, wins 2013 ECPA Christian Book of the Year, Charismania isn't fringe.

When Mark Batterson's pagan circle maker practice catches on at 2012 Indianapolis True Woman Conference w/ Joni Earickson Tada & Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Charismania isn't fringe.

When SBC teacher Beth Moore has vision where Jesus appeared to her & revealed spiritual information and was told to share it, & she teaches FROM THAT, Charismania isn't fringe.

Please take some time to listen to the sermons from Strange Fire. Here are some below. They all will be listed at the Strange Fire site soon. This is an important issue.

Are we preachers or are we Witch Doctors?(Conrad Mbewe)
Providence Is Remarkable (Phil Johnson)
An Appeal to My Continuationist Friends (John MacArthur)
Testing the Spirits (John MacArthur)
A Deeper Healing (Joni Eareckson Tada)
Strange Fire (John MacArthur)
Undervaluing Pentecost (R.C. Sproul)
A Case for Cessationism (Tom Pennington)
Is There a Baby in the Charismatic Bathwater? (Phil Johnson)

Here are some good wrap-up essays for you

10 Things you may not have known about the Charismatic Movement (Christian Post)

Lessons Learned at Strange Fire (Tim Challies)

Where There's Smoke, There's Strange Fire (Clint Archer)

The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Engage John MacArthur's Strange Fire Conference (Trevin Wax)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Strange Fire: Final thoughts

John MacArthur/Grace Community Church hosted a major conference last week called Strange Fire. Its title is taken from the verses in Leviticus 10:1-3, where Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the LORD and they were killed by the LORD for it.

Strange Fire proclaimed truth
and the truth divides, Luke 12:51
The catalyst for the conference was because the organizers and speakers at Strange Fire had become concerned because of the improper worship offered to the Lord in the Holy Spirit's name, in the form of the ever-growing Charismatic movement. This is the movement that has an expanding umbrella of false doctrines under it of Prosperity Gospel, miracles, tongues, healings, personal revelation, visions, intuition, and other shenanigans which the Charismatics claim are part of legitimate worship. The conference was held so that the men who were asked to speak could deliberately identify this movement as false and offer biblical reasons why. It was also intended to identify the true body of Christ, so that the body may be educated and the lost in this terrible movement be evangelized. Finally, it was to call out the leaders of both the Charismatic movement and the evangelical movement to step up and stand against it.

The conference was held on Wed-Thu-Fri Oct 16-17-18, and closed Sunday morning Oct 20 with a final message by Dr MacArthur at the Grace Community Church Lord's Day morning service. I watched some live as it was happening, and some on YouTube when I got home from work each night. I saw the opening and closing sermon by Dr MacArthur, Phil Johnson's stunning Baby in the Bathwater sermon, Tom Pennington's case for cessationism, MacArthur's address regarding the objections to having the conference, and Dr Steve Lawson's brilliant sermon on the Puritans and cessationism. I also watched two Q&As, and the music worship. It was all great.

And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men. Isaiah 29:13.It's been two days now since the final address by MacArthur, and my head and heart have had time to settle. The dust is now settling a bit also. The reaction to this conference was extreme. Twitter and blogs lit up with comments of all kinds, from support and thanks to hyperbole and incendiary fury. The Pope got involved. Christian and secular news reported on it. Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald, two men who lead churches, crashed the conference and then whipped up even more anger because they failed to be totally honest about what happened when they arrived. Accusations flew and theological battle lines were drawn. Phew.

It was sad to see such reactions but in another way, it was good. If you're not taking flak, you're not over the target, goes the old saying. It's encouraging because I know that the Spirit was with the men of that conference and Jesus was honored by the truth being proclaimed.

The hyperbole is mostly on the side of people who disagree with the Strange Fire conference, either its existence or the content. The men who spoke at the Strange Fire conference were not hyperbolic, but spoke biblically in clarity, confidence and firmness, in love. Multitudes were edified, and said so.
Strange Fire: drew out men of faith.
It also drew out the faithless. Jo 8:32.

In fact, there is always hyperbole, division, and linguistic ruckus when the truth is proclaimed. Always. The fact that there IS such a ruckus is not indicative of a lack of work via the Holy Spirit, as some claim. To me, it is assurance that the Holy Spirit IS working. If we can take a look at the bible, Jesus spoke "hard sayings" and many left Him. Did He do it wrong? The Pharisees went hyperbolic over what Jesus was teaching, was the Holy Spirit not present?

In all that hullaballoo last week, there was one simple truth that was biblically explained time and again: the miracle sign gifts have ceased. The canon is closed. God is not speaking. Opening one's self even one millimeter to the possibility of any of those things opens one's faith to shipwreck, where it is heading for millions who believe they are experiencing visions and healings and miracles and tongues from the Holy Spirit, when it is really the devil.

This assertion inflamed millions, who hold that with half a billion people in the Charismatic movement they all can't be wrong. LOL, by that standard, numbers, can a billion Muslims be wrong? A billion Catholics? Yes, and yes. And yes that many Charismatic people can be wrong too.

Both the number of heated reactions and the number of people involved in this false movement are staggering. It opened my eyes once again to the unfortunate fact of the proportions in the bible. There are many who are on the broad road, there are few on the narrow. Apostasy is on the rise so fast it is staggering. defines apostasy as "the falling away from the Christian faith. It is a revolt against the truth of God’s word by a believer. It can also describe a group or church organization that has "fallen away" from the truths of Christianity as revealed in the Bible."

The Charismatics who believe in the things they believe (as discussed at Strange Fire) have fallen away from the truths of Christianity as revealed in the bible. It is depressing to see how many are drawn away.

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons," (1 Timothy 4:1)

"But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3)

I was heartbroken to hear that half a billion people are drawn away from a sincere devotion to Christ and instead are pursuing ecstatic experiences that look and likely are demonic. In Dr MacArthur's final sermon at the conference, which was Sunday morning, he said that no conference of that sort would be complete without addressing the likely end of people who defect from the faith, these defectors are the ones who don't know they have defected and they plead with Jesus on His Day. Matthew 7:22 has it--

"Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'"

And grievously, the Lord will send them away, saying they are evil workers of iniquity and He never knew them. MacArthur noted that the list of works they use to plead their case are the exact list that the Charismatics insist are a work of the Spirit today: prophesyings, (and visions) demon deliverance, and miracles. The Charismatic movement as described at Strange Fire is indicative of apostasy.

This rising apostasy reminded me of a famous Japanese woodblock print called The Great Wave.

Wikipedia explains, "The Great Wave off Kanagawa is a woodblock print by the Japanese artist Hokusai. An example of ukiyo-e art, it was published sometime between 1830 and 1833 (during the Edo Period). This particular woodblock is one of the most recognized works of Japanese art in the world. It depicts an enormous wave threatening boats near the Japanese prefecture of Kanagawa. While sometimes assumed to be a tsunami, the wave is, as the picture's title notes, more likely to be a large okinami – literally "wave of the open sea." (source)

The foam at the top of the wave look like claws, ready to devour the helpless rowers underneath. That is apostasy, the lion prowling with claws ready to devour the helpless and hapless. By its very nature, the Charismatic movement opens scripture to additions, and this make a shipwreck of people and their faith.

In his book Toward An Exegetical Theology, Walter Kaiser wrote 34 years ago,

"It is no secret that Christ's Church is not at all in good health in many places of the world. She has been languishing because she has been fed, as the current line has it, "junk food"; all kinds of artificial preservatives and all sorts of unnatural substitutes have been served up to her. As a result, theological and Biblical malnutrition has afflicted the very generation that has taken such giant steps to make sure its physical health is not damaged by using foods or products that are carcinogenic or otherwise harmful to their physical bodies. Simultaneously a worldwide spiritual famine resulting from the absence of any genuine publication of the Word of God continues to run wild and almost unabated in most quarters of the Church."

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. (Amos 8:11)

There will be a lot of good that will come from the conference, there always is with the Holy Spirit. Men were edified. Truth was taught. Praise and honor to the Lord was given. People clarified their positions, on both sides. And in a seemingly negative good is that it showed just how apostate so many really are. The Lord said that before He returns there will be a rebellion against the faith, a falling away from it.

"Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction," (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

"I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8)

"Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man." (Luke 17:26).

The Lord WILL be glorified. With all the words that have been said and will be said, there is only one goal. Worship the Lord properly. Glorify Him in Spirit and in TRUTH.

"All the nations -- and you made each one -- will come and bow before you, Lord; they will praise your great and holy name. For you are great and perform great miracles. You alone are God." (Psalm 86:9-10)

Prata's Place / Graceful Garlands: Gradual Growth

My title comes from Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland ...